The Virtual Haiti Relief campaign in Second Life has become a fascinating experiment in engagement here for us at Nonprofit Commons — I hope we can learn from this endeavor for future work. Over a dozen avatars actively shared their skills by creating interactive experiences, events, fundraisers and outreach campaigns to help raise support for the people of Haiti over 6 weeks this winter. Many hundreds of avatars visited campaign spaces, from the Benefit Music Festival to the Help Haiti Hub aid distribution center.
This campaign took off when Rhiannon Chatnoir and the Virtual Haiti Relief group was able to take the scripted code from the Relay for Life kiosks and create a specialized Haiti relief kiosk that was spread throughout Second Life. Let’s look at the fundraising numbers and rank of monies raised by this community on our four sims:
2) Health Commons $760 or L$197619
24) Plush Nonprofit Commons $83 or L$21440
28) Aloft Nonprofit Commons $68 or L$17541
72) ECO Commons $16 or L$3910
Total raised from NPC: L$240,510 or nearly $1,000USD (thanks to all of you for contributing!). This campaign as a whole raised L$2,000,000 or over $7,200USD. Together the Nonprofit Commons sims raised more than any other single group working in Second Life.
Much of the money raised was passive — beyond the organized music and arts festival events there were many thousands that came in just by making the means of donation available in public spaces around the sims. There are also over 40 musical acts that donated their time to come play for the festival on Aloft Nonprofit Commons, including LabGraal that packed the sim on a Saturday afternoon.
* Events are essential! Most of our visitors and new guests came for the music festival (hundreds over the course of one weekend)
* Advertising is helpful: It helps to have friends on other sims who will get the word out for us
* Music & Entertainment draws crowds better than most other activities, especially if the band has a following
* It helps to make simple agreements quickly with one organization vs. longer route with foundations/coalition-building
* Offer content that informs as well as entertains — many guests appreciated our speakers and detailed information on how to get more involved in grassroots efforts
Special thanks to those here who supported these events/efforts including Rhiannon for building the kiosks and festival stage, Katydid Something for organizing the music festival, Mia Kitchensink, Brena Benoir, Ninlil Xentiltat & many others here at NPC for building various elements on our sims…thank you for your efforts to make this possible. The Help Haiti Hub will continue to exist for some time to allow us to process how aid and information flows across these spaces.
We are finding that what works inworld connects closely to what works on the ground in Haiti:
From this HuffPo article:
“In the meantime, what saved many during the earthquake, and what is keeping them alive today, is a culture and economy of solidarity, or mutual aid. Solidarity is an essential strategy through which on-the-margins communities, and their individual members, can survive and thrive. Today the generosity is on overdrive.”
“Gifting and solidarity are time-honored traditions in Haiti, as around the world. The non-monetary transactions of services, care, and goods are both spontaneous and organized. They honor human relationships and attention to the well-being of the whole, not just oneself. They minimize the role of profit in economic and social relations, and thus keep respect, cooperation, and ethics thriving.”
We learned a lot by bringing in speakers from Ushahidi, Partners for Others, Sustainable Haiti and many other organizations working with the people on the ground to rebuild and renew.
Following Ushahidi will show you up to date reports of where issues are noticed and addressed. There are many creative groups solving issues around rebuilding, permaculture and food security, water purification and medical care in remote areas. There’s a long way to go and volunteers will also be welcomed by many groups if you are interested in traveling directly to the region to help rebuild this country.
We are learning that there’s a lot we can do remotely to help, from fundraising to connecting organizations who are doing good work to collaborate in times of great need. Please share the lessons you have learned here so that we can begin to build better campaigns together at NPC.
Written by: InKenzo